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Wild Card: Cannibalism, Gas Crises, and Manhunters on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

I don't know about you, but I haven't laughed as hard as I did last night a long time.

I'm talking of course about the fourth season premiere of FX's deliriously zany comedy series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which aired two gleefully inappropriate back-to-back episodes last night ("Mac & Dennis: Manhunters" and "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis"), the latter of which was written by new writing staff additions Sonny Lee and Patrick Walsh, who also write the series' equally hilarious Paddy's Pub blog. (If you haven't yet checked out Paddy's Pub, please do ASAP. It currently features excerpts from Dennis' erotic memoirs, behind-the-scenes videos, and Ask Dirty Frank.)

Last night's painfully funny installments didn't feature the gang learning any valuable life lessons, maturing in any fashion, or throwing off their outmoded ideas about energy consumption, cannibalism, or, well, hunting a man on the streets of Philadelphia. What these hilarious episodes did feature, however, was an over-the-top absurdist humor that I find hysterical and a band of selfish, ill-informed louts whose interactions I can't get enough of.

Sure, Charlie and Sweet Dee became convinced they were cannibals afte consuming some of Frank's human meat (it ended up being raccoon meat and their cannibalistic hunger was likely just a tapeworm) and Dennis and Mac hunted poor Cricket like the most dangerous game and the second episode featured Charlie siphoning gas with his mouth and blowing fireballs, car crashes, and Sweet Dee and Frank staking out an apartment in a "rape van," but it's that level of sheer wackiness that I find myself addicted to. Much like Charlie and Sweet Dee's ravenous hunger, if I'm being honest.

Like Seinfeld before it, Sunny wipes the slate clean at the end of each episode, restoring a temporary order to the chaos of the lives of Paddy's Pub's owners Dennis, Dee, Mac, Charlie, and Frank. I don't expect these characters to ever grow or mature as human beings... and I'd be turned off completely if they did. What makes the series so memorable and laugh-out-loud funny is these characters' infantile behavior. To say that they are stuck in a perpetual state of arrested development is to let them off the hook easily; it's safe to say that none of them have any more emotional maturity than you'd find in your average vicious high schooler.

What other series would feature one of its lead characters cutting the brakes of their van and then jumping out of the back, yelling "wild card"? (Okay, maybe Inside the Actors Studio, but that James Lipton is a wiry fellow.) Or having two characters debate white and dark meat while standing in a morgue contemplating which cadaver they'd most like to feed on?

And that, to me, is what makes Sunny so fantastic to watch. There is no telling just what these egocentric low-lives will get up to next and, no matter what depths the writers choose to sink to, I know I will be along for the ride, interior tinted windows and all.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Next week on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it's two back-to-back episodes. Up first is "America's Next Top Paddy's Billboard Model Contest," in which Frank and Mac invest in a billboard and then create a competition to find Paddy's next top model while Dee and Charlie try to create a new YouTube sensation. Then it's "Mac's Banging the Waitress" in which Charlie asks Mac to beat up the new boyfriend of his beloved waitress and Dennis tries to convince Charlie that they are best friends.

Comments

I am so mad--I actually fell asleep during the second episode! (I know this seems impossible but I was very, very tired.) The first ep was fantastic, though. Only this show could get away with a storyline about cannibalism and have it be hilarious. And I can't wait to get home tonight to watch the second ep. It will be the perfect end to a long week.

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